(working) Our Story -

We are many stories that began at different times and in different places with common themes, efforts and values. In the summer of 2018, through friendships, sharing meals together, and lively dialogue, we started to weave and bind our commonalities together. The Western Upper Peninsula Food Systems Council is the result of sharing our food resiliency dreams, desires for equity and justice, and ultimately, a commitment to be in the service of our communities. 

 As a new partnership initiative, we began to organize and meet together regularly. In our personal and professional roles as researchers, planners, managers, writers, and advocates, we were able to join dynamic skill sets, expertise, and talents to learn more about our communities and identify opportunities to support food systems work in our region.  Please visit our Projects page to see how our Food Systems initiative is growing and the ways that partnerships contribute to this important work for food resiliency.

 Our Council’s website, mission, vision, and case statement are currently under development as we use our first year to build partnerships and engage with communities in the Western Upper Peninsula, Michigan.

(working) Vision -

We aim to create a supportive, interconnected, and equitable food system across our region through service and stewardship for the wellbeing of our earth, air, and water, and all living beings.

(working) Mission -

We work to strengthen our communities by identifying and supporting our food systems’ unique resources, local needs, and regional priorities.

(working) Goals -

Our overarching goal is to enhance the wellbeing of all communities, including those with roots, wings, fins, and legs, and the earth, air, and water that gives all communities life, through the following objectives:

Objective 1:

Develop a food systems council, and with advisement from each of our six surrounding communities, to create our mission, vision, case statement, and clarify Council goals that will define, structure, and motivate our ongoing and future work.  Objective 1 will be achieved by December 2019.

A food systems council is needed to lead and facilitate coordinated efforts in different areas of our food system, including research and development, project funding, and ongoing community engagement and intergenerational learning. We are using our first year to build partnerships and engage with communities so that we may identify and support the Western Upper Peninsula food system’s unique resources, local needs, and regional priorities. A council is critical for creating the foundation for research and documentation, and to be able to organize and communicate our local needs and regional priorities to others in positions to support community wellbeing.

Objective 2:

Create and disseminate an annual report for the Food Systems Council activities across our region, beginning in 2019 and forward. Objective 2 will be complete and posted on our website by the end of December each year.

Objective 3:

Identify and develop Council task committees based on our region’s priority work. Objective 3 will be complete by July 2020.

Council task committees are needed to organize the council’s priority work and to provide the pathways for community members to be engaged. Task committees will be identified and determined through the annual report 2019. Initial committee task ideas include: education, outreach, and intergenerational learning; food access and health; marketing and communication; fund development; research; planning and policy; technical writing; creative expression, storytelling, and art.

Objective 4:

Develop and implement seven community workshops based on the needs and desires within each county (2 in Gogebic County, eastern and western).  Objective 4 will be complete by October 2020.

These workshops are necessary to remain engaged across the Western UP, strengthen working relationships, and intergenerational learning across our region.

Objective 5:

Complete five community foods assessments and two food sovereignty assessments across the Western UP. We aim to complete Objective 5 by the end of 2021.

Community food assessments and food sovereignty assessments are needed to determine food and food-related assets, resources, needs, and priorities to inform initiatives that promote resource protection, while increasing food equity, organizational capacity, and community wellbeing. Assessments will be conducted across Western UP counties and within the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Lac Vieux Desert Bands of Lake Superior Ojibwa tribal communities.

Objective 6:

Complete a food hub feasibility study for the Western UP. We aim to complete Objective 6 in 2022.

The food hub feasibility study is needed to identify, design, and determine the cost and timeline for infrastructure of food system services and support that are needed in the Western UP. This includes evaluating all components of the food system and the policies needed to reduce challenges and barriers, and implement solutions and opportunities identified in our community food assessments. A food hub(s) has the potential to benefit communities across our region through coordinated food system efforts, including infrastructure, production and distribution, transportation and waste, and ultimately, economic prosperity and community wellbeing. 

Objective 7:

Based on the results of the feasibility study, design and build food system infrastructure in the Western UP. The timeline for Objective 6 completion will be determined by the feasibility study.

Objective 8:

Connect Western, Central, and Eastern UP food system initiatives.

As community members we all have a vested interest in the food systems of the surrounding area.
— Courtney Archambeau, Michigan Tech University Student